Carson Pass in CA: The Ultimate Road Trip Guide

Carson Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.619m (8,592ft) above the sea level, located in Alpine County, in the US state of California.

Carson Pass

How long is Carson Pass?

Tucked away in El Dorado National Forest, the road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called California State Route 88, also known as Carson Pass Highway. The pass is 22.53km (19,9 miles) long running east-west from Alpine Village (in Alpine County) to Kirkwood (in Alpine and Amador counties). A parking lot at the pass fills up fast on weekends.

Is Carson Pass open?

Set high on the crest of the central Sierra Nevada range, the road is kept open all winter but can be subject to restrictions or short-term closure due to snow (including avalanches) or ice. Winter road closure is rare. It’s one of the highest auto passes in the Sierra Nevada. When the road does close temporarily, it is usually because of avalanche danger. It has two areas that are particularly vulnerable to avalanches - the Carson Spur area between Silver Lake and Kirkwood and the eastern side of Carson Pass. Between the two, there are 22 different avalanche chutes that could send snow tumbling onto the roadway.

Is Carson Pass in California scenic?

Set high on the eastern part of California, the scenery is breathtaking. There are many excellent photo opportunities here. The drive is filled with scenic views, alpine lakes, and countless places to pull off the highway and explore. You will witness views of ragged volcanic skylines, cool green meadows, mountain lakes framed by timber-covered slopes, adventure-filled rock valleys, and distant mountain peaks.